For everything there is a season

2020 has been challenging in just about every way. Between the pandemic and racial and political divisiveness, this year has been draining at times.

For me, this season has been for reflection and personal growth. It’s been a season for kindness and forgiveness. A season to slow down and reconsider priorities. A season to count every single one of my blessings and help others.

In this season I’m thankful. I just celebrated my 31st birthday and I’m carrying this gratitude with me. I’m not waiting for 2020 to flash by so we can celebrate a new year and forget this one happened.

Instead I’m laughing so hard I cry with my husband. I’m reading more because it’s something I love. I’m cuddling with my pets. I’m cherishing time with family. I’m journaling and writing as a creative outlet and praying about any anxious thoughts.

For me this hasn’t been a season for hustle. It has been a season to slow down and see the good in the bad. It has been a season for grace and self-compassion. Instead of wishing the next 153 days away, I’m going to continue to carry hope and thankfulness with me.

What are you thankful for and what are some silver linings you’ve found in 2020?

No, things can’t just go back to normal

I saw a few posts in recent weeks from people wanting life to go back to normal. These comments are especially tone deaf in the middle of a global pandemic and national unrest because of the gross racial injustices in our country.

Things can’t go back to normal. We can only move forward. But we can’t move forward until we recognize systematic racism. We can’t heal until we admit that there are racial injustices and actively work to address and change those inequalities. There can’t be justice without accountability and we must address our shameful past to even begin to move forward from our divisive present.

We have to start with humility and empathy and understand that no matter how socially conscious or progressive we think we are, we have old bias regarding racial stereotypes and prejudice.

We have so much to learn, unlearn, and relearn.

I’ve been listening, learning, and checking my heart to figure out how to be a better ally.

I started with reading White Fragility. It’s a book by a white women for other white people about why it’s hard for white people to talk about racism without getting defensive. She highlights the biases white people have toward race while saying they don’t see color and think everyone is equal. It’s an important look at history and how bias are part of every day even if you’re “progressive” and “mean well.” Nice doesn’t mean not racist and racism doesn’t just come from mean/bad people.

I took a look at what I consume on social media platforms and made sure I’m following and amplifying black voices, artists, activists, content creators, authors, and more.

I’m diversifying my book stack and am reading more books by black authors. I recently finished The Water Dancer and just started Men We Reaped. Just Mercy, Rabbit, Stamped, Queenie, and Party of Two are also on my TBR list.

I’ve donated to organizations supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and had conversations with people about white privilege and how comments like all lives matter are not valid or appropriate. You cannot tell people how to mourn or how to feel about recent events. And offering up preferable reactions to someone else’s trauma is not only hurtful but it’s harmful. Being defensive, denying these injustices, and making tone deaf comments is not helpful.

“Interrupting the forces of racism is ongoing, lifelong work because the forces conditioning us into racist frameworks are always at play; our learning will never be finished. Yet our simplistic definition of racism -as intentional acts of racial discrimination committed by immoral individuals- engenders a confidence that we are not a part of the problem and that our learning is thus complete”- Robin Diangelo

I’m still learning and I’ll forever be learning. What I do know is that I won’t stay silent. I’ll put in the work to educate myself and continue to act and stand with the many people hurting right now.

Writers write, right?

I don’t remember how old I was when I figured out that I wanted to be a writer in some shape or form when I grew up. I do remember writing that I wanted to be an author in a “what do you want to be when you grow up” prompt in grade school.

I remember writing short stories on tan paper with wide lines that were used for writing lower-case and upper-case letters. They were mostly tales about a girl exploring a woods and pasture and discovering a magical tree. No doubt, inspired by my childhood home and the books I read at that age.

I remember my high school English teacher approaching me and telling me about a contest that involved writing a novel. I procrastinated until the week it was due and spent a day and night writing nonstop while my mom and cousin helped me edit it.

I remember getting ideas for stories or novels and filling line after line in moleskin notebooks that still line my plastic organizer draws in my office. I haven’t reread all of them, but I have reread some of them.

For the past few years I’ve been lucky enough to write for different jobs I’ve had. It’s been behind a computer screen instead of a pen and loose paper, but I know I’ve been lucky to be able to keep that dream alive. That’s one of the reasons I restarted this blog. I wanted to get back to writing for fun and for me.

Marie Forleo, in her book Everything is Figureoutable, highlights something that’s been on my mind:

“One of the biggest obstacles to figuring out your dream is this: you incorrectly assume that ‘it’s all been done before.’ You don’t believe you have anything original, valuable, or worthwhile to contribute. You don’t feel special or talented enough to add your voice to the mix. It’s time to set the record straight. No matter how many times you think an idea or creation has been shared in the world, sometimes it takes that one person expressing it in their unique voice, at the right time, in the right place, for it to actually make a difference…there’s always room for more. There’s always room for you.”

I’m using this little space on the internet to share more of my voice. Thanks for joining me along the way.

How my bullet journal is helping me plan, organize, and keep memories in 2020

This new year I decided to start a bullet journal. Before getting started I read The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll, the creator of the Bullet Journal. I was a little overwhelmed at first wondering if I would be able to keep up with it.

Although I’m still a newcomer to the process it really has helped me plan, track, organize, journal, and keep memories.

The Bullet Journal really clicked for me when I saw it all come together on the page. The future log (for the year), monthly log, and daily log helped me feel more clear-headed and like I had the capability to tackle whatever task, work event, or errand I need to.

In the past I would buy planners and use them for three months before I set them aside and used them less and less as the year went on. The journal has allowed me to keep track of both work and personal stuff. I added a section to each of my daily logs to reflect on the day and keep track of memories.

I also started a section to keep track of the books I’m reading. I created a double spread to write down the books I read each month as well as a bookshelf where I can decorate a book cover. There is another double spread of a “book bracket” where I will choose the best book I read each month and narrow it down throughout the year until there is one book chosen as the book of the year.

One quote in the Bullet Journal Method book is, “in a cut-and-paste world that celebrates speed, we often mistake convenience for efficiency. When we take shortcuts, we forfeit opportunities to slow down and think. Writing by hand, as nostalgic and antiquated as it may seem, allows us to reclaim those opportunities…true efficiency is not about speed; it’s about spending more time with what truly matters.”

The first thing I learned about the bullet journal is that there are a lot of different versions. The creator of the method keeps his journal minimal but very detailed and creative spreads can be found on Instagram and Pinterest. I decided to make my daily logs a little more detailed but have attempted to start small and simple as to not overdo it.

I have created some special collections outside of the monthly and daily logs and the book spreads. I created a gratitude log, a short-term and long-term goals log, a photo log that I’ll update throughout the year, as well as a spread where I tracked the kind of tea my husband and I liked.

Here’s what I’ve used to create my bullet journal: A5 Dot Grid Notebook by Archer and Olive, a six-inch acrylic ruler, Tombow brush pens with soft and hard tips, Sakura Pigma Micron 05 Black pen, Midliners, and Crayola super tips markers.

Do you have a Bullet Journal? What tips do you have?

I got a tattoo and here’s what I learned

After nearly two years of wanting a tattoo, I finally got one.

The tattoo is of a tree, in memory of my dad. More than 20 years ago he planted several pine trees in the back yard of my childhood home. Today they are tall, towering trees. The tattoo for me represents family, growth, strength, resiliency, and a deep connection to my roots.

When I started thinking about getting a tattoo I made a rule for myself that I had to want the same design for more than a year. I wanted to make sure that it was something I would want for a long time and wouldn’t get tired of.

I googled a lot of pine tree tattoos and I asked my brother to sketch some designs, which made it even more special to me. I knew I wanted the tattoo to be simple but realistic and I did not want it to look like a Christmas tree.

Next I did a lot of research about tattoo parlors, tattoo artists, placement, after care, and more. I started reaching out to artists and realized that many of them are busy and it can be hard to get on the schedule.

Once I found an artist and a business I scheduled an appointment. When the day came I showed up and was told the artist would be there soon. After sitting there for five minutes I got an email that said he would be late. To make a long story a little shorter, I was not loving the vibe of the business. After waiting for another 30 minutes I decided to leave.

I made an appointment with a different artist at a different business. When I arrived for the consult two days later, it was cleaner, more relaxing, and the artist was very nice and knowledgeable. After about 10 minutes I had an appointment booked for a week later.

When the day came I was a little nervous. It obviously was my first tattoo and even though I did a fair amount of research I still didn’t quite know what to expect. I asked my husband if I was making a bad decision and he told me that I wasn’t, he supported me, and reminded me that I had been talking about it for three years.

I arrived for my appointment and went over the design again with the artist. After getting things ready he asked if I was ready and then began tattooing me. I was surprised by how quiet the machine was, how little it hurt, and how quick it was done. The whole process took maybe 30 minutes and although it felt a little bit like a burn a few times it was not as painful as I expected.

The healing process went pretty quickly too. I had saniderm on the tattoo for about four days and after I took that off it was almost completely healed after a week.

I am really happy with how it turned out and it’s even more special to me because of the meaning behind it.

My takeaways:

  • Get something that is special to you and make sure it’s something you will like for a long time.
  • Do research, look at reviews, and ask around for recommendations.
  • Take someone with you.